Newsletter 30

Understanding Engineering Consequences

Engineers need to create solutions whether or not we have all the information that we want.   However, our outcomes are limited by the framework we have to predict how something will behave.  Operational experience lets us update our predictive models to provide superior results, next time.  We may even go back to an old idea.  Fundamentally, better knowledge about how things work allows us to make better decisions.  Happy reading.

Vast Wind and Solar Farms Would Bring More Rain to Africa

Vast Wind and Solar Farms Would Bring More Rain to Africa

Climate change is a topical example of the unintended consequences of technology. One of the proposed solutions is large scale use of renewable energy generation systems. However, it appears that these may disrupt regional climate patterns. Is better knowledge leading to planned weather, or is this simply a bug being labeled a feature?

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Discover, September 2018


Digital Twins – Predictive Maintenance 'Gets Rid of the Human Factor'

Digital Twins – Predictive Maintenance 'Gets Rid of the Human Factor'

By the time an experienced mechanic might smell that something was wrong with a piece of equipment, it was too late for maintenance and a repair was needed. Now sensors can monitor key variables to anticipate problems. A digital twin can then forecast outcomes, if a company already has an engineering performance model.

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IMechE News, August 2018


Open Offices Make People Talk Less and Email More

Open Offices Make People Talk Less and Email More

It seems obvious that a workplace designed for high quality interaction between people should lead to better work. However, it appears that employees that are unable to concentrate have less desire for communication. This leads to the counter-intuitive finding that open plan offices mean more email and less face time.

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BBC, July 2018


Airbus Looks Windward, Will Put Sails on Ships Moving Plane Parts

Airbus Looks Windward, Will Put Sails on Ships Moving Plane Parts

What does an airplane manufacturer do to seek inspiration? It looks to the sky. To reduce ocean shipping costs Airbus has a plan – have a kite pull the cargo ship. Trust the aerospace industry to come up with the novel idea of having wind push a boat.

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Wall Street Journal, September 2018